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Spring 2011 Citizen's Watch Newsletter

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News You Can Use: Nuclear Weapons Budget Overview

by Robert Civiak and Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The Fiscal Year 2012 budget request contains $7.63 billion for the Nuclear Weapons Activities of the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration - an increase of $1.27 billion over the 2010 appropriation for the same programs. Even though the U.S. stockpile contains only one-fifth as many warheads as it used to, the 2012 request is the largest ever for Nuclear Weapons Activities.

After accounting for inflation, the $7.63 billion request is 21 percent more than Ronald Reagan's largest nuclear weapons budget and 19 percent more than President George H.W. Bush's highest spending level. That those Republican Presidents were comfortable with much lower spending to maintain a much larger nuclear stockpile is a clear indication of the excess in this year's request.

The "outyear" budget calls for annual increases of 4 percent per year for Nuclear Weapons Activities, bringing the 2016 request to $8.9 billion.

These escalating billions are part of the political "deal" that President Obama made to garner Senator Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) support for the New START treaty [which the President did not get, though the Treaty was ratified without it].

To mask the large increases to the DOE budget, the Obama Administration plans to shift $2.2 billion from the Defense Department's Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation account to the DOE's Nuclear Weapons Activities account between 2013 and 2016.

The Fiscal Year 2012 budget request includes increases for each of the major spending programs that are part of the DOE Nuclear Weapons Activities account -- and for all of the laboratories and production facilities that constitute the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including Livermore Lab. The budget is presently being debated in Congress and can be cut back, if enough pressure is brought to bear.

As a resource to empower your activism, Tri-Valley CAREs offers an 8-page, program-by-program analysis of the budget request for Nuclear Weapons Activities, with recommendations for cuts and adjustments. The report is written by Dr. Robert Civiak, a former budget examiner for DOE weapons programs at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Go to http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/reports.html.

Faultlines: Fukushima, Diablo Canyon and Beyond

by Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The March 11 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is more than two months old - and still unfolding as additional radiation is being released and new discoveries are being made about the severity of the accident.

Tepco, the plant operator, has admitted that a containment breach, full exposure of the fuel rods and a meltdown at Reactor #1 occurred. A robotic survey of leaking water found radiation levels up to 2,000 millisieverts per hour.

Tepco also revealed that similar conditions exist at Reactors 2 and 3, further complicating their ability to achieve what the industry calls "safe shutdown" without releasing huge amounts of radioactivity. And, Tepco's estimate of reaching that shutdown within 9-months is expected to be revised.

Our friends in Japan are conducting public education and advocacy. One of the things that we at Tri-Valley CAREs can do is to help when asked. Green Action Japan has launched an international petition at http://fukushima.greenaction-japan.com/, calling on the government to roll back its allowable limit for children's radiation exposure. (Yes, the government did raise the limit post-disaster.)

Closer to home, there is renewed scrutiny of CA's two operating nuclear power plants, San Onofre and Diablo Canyon. A recent inspection at Diablo Canyon revealed 20 so-called "minor" safety problems, including a backup cooling pump that failed to operate. PG&E has requested a 20-year extension of Diablo's operating license, while activists and others have called for a halt to the relicensing process. The call is resonating nationwide as numerous U.S. nuclear power plants approach the end of their operational lives.

Congress is also debating whether to give $36 billion more to the nuclear industry in the form of "loan guarantees" for new nuclear power plants. Tri-Valley CAREs was in Washington, DC in April to oppose this nuclear pork along with the bloated nuclear weapons budget. We invite you to weigh in with our CA Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and your Representative.

Livermore Lab Poses New Environmental Threats

By Scott Yundt and Marylia Kelley From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Every five years the Dept. of Energy (DOE) is required to update its environmental review of Livermore Lab activities and their potential impacts on public health and the environment. To address this legal requirement, the DOE recently released a Supplement Analysis (SA) to the Lab's 2005 Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement. A Supplement Analysis is the lowest level of environmental review the DOE could do.

Further, the DOE used the SA to summarily assert that the Lab's nuclear weapons activities will not pose any significant threat to the environment. The DOE bases its assertion on vague descriptions and cursory analyses of 23 "newly proposed" activities at the Livermore Lab main site and its Site 300 high explosives testing range. These new and expanded activities are set to take place in the next 5 years, and many of them will be extremely dangerous.

For example, the SA includes a proposal to increase the maximum yield of blasts at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) from about 20 pounds TNT equivalent to more than 50 pounds TNT equivalent. Due to the ensuing "skyshine," which will send neutrons from NIF blasts skyward and bounce radiation back down to the ground, portions of the Lab site may have to be evacuated. The SA specifically states that the agency will "warn or exclude" the Lab's "non-involved workers" within a 5-millirem radioactive exposure isocontour during the NIF blasts.

The SA also includes a plan to hugely increase the amount of radioactive tritium and highly toxic beryllium allowed at the NIF. And, it discloses that there will be major increases in the Lab's transuranic (e.g. plutonium) and hazardous waste storage.

Further, the SA completely fails to analyze other new projects. For example, steps are currently being taken to open up part of Livermore Lab and neighboring Sandia Lab to collaborative endeavors with private entities. Some of this may be good, some not, but certainly all of this deserves public input and a thorough review of its potential impacts. The SA also fails to analyze the Tritium Facility Modernization Project, a proposed thermonuclear Target Fabrication Facility and other potentially polluting Livermore Lab projects that are in the process of being built or are on the drawing board.

When the SA was released to the public on March 30, Tri-Valley CAREs alerted people to attend an April 14 public meeting organized by the DOE and Livermore Lab to ask questions about the SA and its proposals that pose significant health, safety and environmental risks. Next, we encouraged members of the public to send in written comments before the May 13 deadline. Dozens came to the meeting, and, from feedback we have received, we know that scores of you sent in written comments - and we thank you!

Tri-Valley CAREs' 12-page comment is available at http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/comments.html.

In it, we detail some of the hazards posed by new and expanded weapons programs. We counter the DOE's claim that no additional review of Livermore Lab programs is required by law, noting, instead, that a thorough analysis of the harmful impacts of Lab programs must be included in a new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement.

Together, we at Tri-Valley CAREs and all of you - our members and friends - are holding DOE's feet to the fire. We invite you to stay active... and stay tuned!

Our Bio-suit News

By Scott Yundt From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

This spring, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney Scott Yundt filed the opening brief in our appeal, which stems from a ruling by the U.S. District Court that allows Livermore Lab to experiment with deadly pathogens in its Biosafety Level-3, or BSL-3 despite demonstrated violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The BSL-3 houses experiments with live anthrax, plague, Q fever and dozens of other exotic, potentially lethal pathogens. Some of these deadly agents are aerosolized (sprayed) for use on small animals (up to 100 at a time) to ascertain how effective the agents would be in killing humans.

Further, the facility is authorized to conduct experiments with genetically modified biological agents of potentially novel virulence, all housed in a portable building in a Lab parking lot.

According to DOE, the facility's inventory may include up to 50-liters of bio-agents at any one time.

Our legal challenge to the operation of the BSL-3 has been ongoing since 2003. It persists because, to date, DOE has failed to adequately analyze the potentially catastrophic consequences this facility could have on Lab workers and the surrounding Bay Area and Central Valley communities.

Briefing on the case should be completed this summer with a hearing to follow. We are asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a decision that sets aside the lower court's ruling and compels DOE to undertake an in depth analysis in a full Environmental Impact Statement with public hearings.

We are also requesting that the Ninth Circuit suspend operation of the BSL-3 until such time as it can demonstrate compliance with NEPA.

To review our opening brief check out our website at www.trivalleycares.org/new/litigation.html

Print Bites: All the News that Fits to Print

By Marylia Kelley From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

* Good Friday. The Good Friday action at Livermore Lab drew about 150. Following the program, which featured speakers, music and dance, 33 were arrested as they peaceably protested nuclear weapons in the West Gate. The interfaith event has been held at Livermore Lab for more than 25 years. This year, it also coincided with Earth Day.

* Other actions. Livermore is not the only site drawing protests. Our friends at the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance hosted more than 100 at the gates of Y-12 in TN, where 13 were jailed on federal trespass charges (and where they remain). At the nuclear test site in Nevada, the Western Shoshone led a gathering to mark 60 years of "atomic assault" on their land. Nevada Desert Experience led a peace walk to the test site, where 16 were arrested. At the site of a new Kansas City bomb plant in MO, 150 gathered with more than 50 arrested. The Kansas City "Peace Planters" also introduced a ballot measure to prohibit nuclear weapons production and convert the plant, if built. Across the country, and indeed the world, positive stories abound. People are organizing, speaking, litigating and practicing many forms of creative non-violent resistance to nuclear weapons and related technologies. We salute you!

* Anniversary. As the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster approached, the Center for Safe Energy, Tri-Valley CAREs and others sponsored a talk by three Russians - Natalia Manzurova, who participated in the cleanup of Chernobyl, Natalia Mironova, founder of the Movement for Nuclear Safety in Chelyabinsk, and Tatiana Mukhamedyarova, a long-time member of the Movement for Nuclear Safety who also helped with translation. Several of our members have asked about a video of the event, and CSE is following up with the person who filmed it. Stay tuned.

* START inspections. Following U.S. ratification of New START, the Russians followed suit. The treaty officially went into force when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged the instruments of ratification on Feb. 5, 2011. Neither country had carried out inspections of the other's nuclear weapons since the previous START treaty had expired in late 2009. The initial group of U.S. inspectors went to Russia in March to examine the Yars ICBM, which had never been inspected because it is newly deployed. Over the course of this spring, both sides will have conducted inspections of each other's strategic nuclear arsenals under the New START regime.

* Pentagon. The Air Force proposes to spend $3.7 billion over the next five years developing a new, stealthy, long-range bomber. The plan, included in Obama's 2012 budget request, could lead to the production of around 100 new bombers by the mid-2020s at costs in the hundreds of billions. Additionally, buying and operating 12 new nuclear ballistic missile subs, also desired by the Pentagon, will cost about $347 billion over the life of the boats, according to a memo signed by the Pentagon acquisition chief. These new bombers and boats point to the Pentagon's intent to rely on nuclear weapons for many decades into the future (and to have us pay for them).

Alerts 4 U / Calendar

From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

May to August

Hiroshima Action planning meetings
Meeting locations in the East Bay & SF
(925) 443-7148 for details

Help us plan the Saturday, August 6 Hiroshima commemoration at Livermore nuclear weapons Lab (with additional "risk arrest" planning for Nagasaki Day, Tue. Aug. 9.) The group is working on scenario, speakers, music, logistics & more. Volunteers needed. Our next meeting will be on Monday, June 6, at 6:30 PM, at Peace Action West, 2201 Broadway #321, Oakland.

Thursday, June 2

Letters to the Editor (writing party)
6:30 PM - 8 PM, Tri-Valley CAREs offices
2582 Old First St., Livermore
RSVP (925) 443-7148

This month's topic: THE ENVIRONMENT. Choose an aspect that appeals to you. For example, you might choose to write on the importance of cleaning up toxic and radioactive wastes at Livermore Lab. Or, write about the impacts of nuclear development. Marylia Kelley will share news from Tri-Valley CAREs' community tour of Site 300 as well as the latest info on the Lab's main site. And, if you prefer to write a letter on a different topic, that's great too. Exercise your creative voice in a supportive atmosphere.

Thursday, June 11

Livermore Parade
10 AM, parade starts
Entry number and line-up area are TBD
More people needed
RSVP (925) 443-7148

Each year, we create a peace and environmental entry for the Livermore Parade, which takes place in downtown Livermore prior to the afternoon rodeo event. The Parade is a unique experience and a HUGE opportunity to get our message out to the public.

Our entry this year will focus on the choices we make as a society. The theme is: Weapons...or Families. What do we cherish? What should we fund? Our float advocates funding cuts for nuclear weapons and preservation of funds needed for social programs and the environment.

We will have a bright orange truck for kids (and elders) to ride in, and lots of balloons, signs and banners for everyone. While our message is serious, our "floats" are always fun and appropriate for all ages. Our kids often steal the show, and we have won a second place trophy 3 years out of the past four. Call Marylia for details, and we will let you know our Parade number, etc. as we get it.

Thursday, June 16

Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 PM, Livermore Library
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Our June 16th meeting will feature news and updates on nuclear weapons, Livermore Lab, radioactive waste cleanup, and what our members can do to create positive change in the community and in the world. We will report out on our "action alert to cut the DOE nuclear weapons budget" (see insert). And, if you live in the Tri-Valley or Tracy, our June meeting is also a good place to plug into the August 6 and 9 action planning.

Tri-Valley CAREs meets the third Thursday of the month, except for December (when we have a party instead!). So, circle your calendar now for our July 21st meeting, too. Our meetings are always open to "old-timers" and new members alike. Join us.

Be Creative: It's Our Strategic Planning Retreat

From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Date: Saturday, August 13

Time: 10 AM to 4 PM. Bring something to share for a potluck lunch.

Place: United Christian Church, 1886 College Ave., Livermore

Who Should Participate? If you are a Tri-Valley CAREs member, supporter, volunteer, staff or board member, the answer is "you."

If you want to give peace a strategy - and work with us to carry it out - we welcome your participation.

What Do You Need To Do? First, RSVP. We will send you a packet with guidance on how to do strategic planning, the day's agenda, and other relevant information.

The Setting: UCC is a relaxing place in which to contemplate a "green vision" for Livermore Lab and a nuclear weapons free world for future generations. Come nurture your activist spirit and help plan the best possible path for Tri-Valley CAREs in the coming year.

RSVP is required * Space is limited * Call or email us to reserve your place * Contact marylia@trivalleycares.org, or (925) 443-7148.

Report Back From Your 2011 DC Days Team!

By Scott Yundt and Marylia Kelley From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

The Tri-Valley CAREs team again joined forces in Washington, DC with activists from over a dozen other states who also live around Department of Energy nuclear weapons sites. We conducted 135 scheduled meetings with key Senators and Representatives in Congress, their staff, committee staff and Obama Administration officials. As you may know, we call this annual event "DC Days."

Tri-Valley CAREs does DC Days in conjunction with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network of three dozen groups.

DC Days began with an all day training where the veteran activists and the "newbies" met to discuss the issues that will be covered in the meetings, the basics of conducting effective meetings with elected officials, and specific issues that affect each of our individual States.

Following a press conference, our meetings with elected officials took place. Your Tri-Valley CAREs team packed in as many meetings as humanly possible over the next several days, including some with Tea Party Republicans!

Just what did we do in meetings? In many meetings, we presented our analysis of the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Activities, pointing out the proposed substantial increase - and advocating for deep cuts instead of any increase. In other meetings, we discussed the toxic and radioactive contamination we face every day in Livermore. And, we offered positive alternatives. (See "DC Days 2011 Goals" at left for more).

Overall, our meetings proved that there is hope that this Congress and the Obama Administration can shift our priorities from "preparing" for more war, violence and nukes to their elimination instead, but it is up to us to keep the pressure on them to do so.

In the picture above, our team joined ANA and other activists in a vigil at the White House demanding an end to nuclear weapons, power and radioactive wastes.

DC DAYS 2011 GOALS

1. Convince Congress to cut the funds for nuclear weapon "Life Extension Programs."

2. Convince Congress to cut the funds for nuclear weapons production facilities including the CMRR-Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos, Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, and the Kansas City Plant.

3. Restore the Non-Proliferation funding and cut the MOX plutonium fuel program.

4. Oppose nuclear power loan guarantees and other subsidies.

5. Increase funds available for the cleanup of contamination at nuclear weapons sites around the country, including Livermore Lab.

6. Increase funds for nuclear weapons dismantlement, and prioritizing worker safety

Some Fruits of Our Labor

- After our meetings, actions to increase the funding for Non-Proliferation programs and to cut the MOX plutonium fuel program have gained momentum.

- Members of Congress have requested an in-depth briefing from Dr. Robert Civiak based on the nuclear weapons budget report he prepared for Tri-Valley CAREs.

- More action is needed to push Congress to cut the budget. Turn this page over to see how you can help.

Take Action to Cut the Nuclear Weapons Budget

By Scott Yundt and Marylia Kelley From Tri-Valley CAREs' Spring 2011 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Current plans would spend $85 billion or more over the next 10 years to build new bomb plants and $100 billion to "modernize" the existing nuclear arsenal. These projects don't make sense if we are working to rid the world of all nuclear weapons. And, meanwhile, efforts to lock up loose bomb-grade material, and to dismantle the weapons we already have are chronically underfunded.

It is time to tell Congress to fix our priorities! What can you do?

(1) Call, Write or Email a Letter to Congress. Use the sample letter to the right to call, write or email a letter to your congressperson or our California Senators today.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, 331 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-3841

Senator Barbara Boxer, 112 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-3553

(2) Write a Letter to the Editor. Using this same information, send a LTE to your favorite paper.

(3) Donate to Tri-Valley CAREs. This will help us continue the opposition to nuclear weapons in your name.

Thank you for everything that you do,

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs

Sample Letter

Dear Representative/Senator:

I urge you to support a forward-looking federal budget that reflects America's commitment to eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons. While Congress is slashing important domestic programs, the proposal to increase nuclear weapons spending by almost 20% over 2010 levels to pay for new bomb factories is unacceptable.

I strongly encourage you to:

- Stop funding projects that would increase the US capacity to produce new nuclear weapons. Planned new facilities at Los Alamos, NM (CMRR) and Oak Ridge, TN (UPF) are now projected to cost taxpayers many billions in the coming years.

- Stop funding the multi- billion dollar Life Extension Program for the B61 nuclear bomb.

- Suspend construction of the mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium fuel fabrication plant and its risky processing activities.

- Move the funds to Non-Proliferation programs that track down and secure nuclear material around the world, and to clean up toxic and radioactive wastes caused by nuclear development.

- Increase funds for dismantlement and require increased dismantlement rates for retired nuclear warheads.

Please write to tell me what action you will take on this issue.

Sincerely, Your Name, Your Address, Your Email

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